47 Responses

  1. anony
    anony at |

    I would’ve thought in the case of Transformers, the CG actually saved the movie

  2. Jay P
    Jay P at |

    None of these movies posted were never really meant to be panned by an Oscar judge is the first thing I noticed… I truly dislike the hype the follows may of these, ie Transformers, Van Helsing… And I do agree with the stupidity of Jar Jar Binks, but sometimes, let a dumb movie just be a movie. I loved Superman Returns and The Matrix series.

    1. TopTenz Master
      TopTenz Master at |

      Always give props to The Matrix. It was revolutionary for its special effects and storyline.

  3. John Jacobs
    John Jacobs at |

    “While really every Michael Bay movie is synonymous with wasteful budgets, explosions, and a lack of depth (you could say the same thing about George Bush)”

    Good posting but you had to get political. So here you go….

    Actually, it’s more correct to say:

    “you could say the same thing about Obama and the Democratically controlled congress. Obama and congress have spent (wasted) more money than all the other presidents COMBINED!”

    Thank you and have a nice day.

    1. Bryan
      Bryan at |

      Not even close to true, with inflation.

      1. Chris
        Chris at |

        Unlike your fact filled retort.

  4. Andrew
    Andrew at |

    on no.6: It’s Crystal Skull not Crystal Skill

  5. Ryan Thomas (Author)
    Ryan Thomas (Author) at |

    The idea is that CGI ruins the quality of film-making. The fact that these movies and many others adopt such a common, artistically-lazy practice automatically detriments how good they can possibly be. Using CGI = the allowance a certain amount of terribleness. While some of these movies may be remotely enjoyable, the focus is on their decision to commit movie malpractice and complete disregard for integrity as a result.

  6. TriviaFan
    TriviaFan at |

    I really like this top 10 as CGI was always one of my biggest pet peeves. I do agree that CGI has become the tool of absolutely lazy and unimaginative filmmakers. Seems like every summer blockbuster, actually any movie any season of the year, relies way too much on CGI.

    From this list the two I most agree with are Indiana Jones and King Kong. When Indiana Jones was being filmed, I could have sworn that the filmmakers promised that there wouldn’t be an excess of CGI. Yet when I watched it I was absolutely bored to tears with the ridiculous amounts of CGI. Same with King Kong. These movies were nothing but excuses to show ‘elaborate’ set pieces filled with CGI meant to awe the audience, but instead puts them to sleep. How many ‘run away from CGI creature’ sequences do we need in every movie?

    Now with some movies like Transformers yes I can accept that it will be CGI since CGI effects are probably a bit more ‘realistic’ and ‘fluid’ than the traditional stop motion animation of yesteryear.

    But when you have movies like ‘Troy’ using CGI to show tens of thousands of people fighting, it’s just plain lazy and unnecessary.

    A great movie nowadays, like The American with George Clooney, is all about mood and subdued acting, not non stop brainless CGI.

  7. StateTheObvious
    StateTheObvious at |

    I think this list misses the point, and is itself a kind of lazy diatribe against CG, almost for the sake of it.

    Most of the movies featured here were intrinsically bad for many other reasons.

    ‘Van Helsing’, for example, with its hamfisted attempt to mash different genres together (see also ‘Wild Wild West’, and ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’), or the Star Wars prequels, where the absolute control wielded by Lucas led to terrible scripts, wooden acting (absolutely no improve from the actors, which helped give the first movies a lot of their humor) and even more wooden direction (when it wasn’t an action sequence concocted by an ILM previs animation team).

    By the time ‘The Matrix’ sequels were being produced (filmed back to back) the Wachowski brothers had completely lost interest, and boy, did it show. As for the ‘Transformers’ movies, I can’t help thinking that Spielberg is looking over Bay’s shoulder having a whale of a time encouraging Bay to develop ever more elaborate and ridiculous CG driven action sequences (think the whole Jonathan Ross/Russel Brand fiasco).

    ‘Superman Returns’, as you’ve alluded to, was simply a contemporary rehash of ‘Superman’, as Brian Singer couldn’t seem to step out of Richard Donner’s shadow, and I think Tim Burton has been phoning movies in for the last decade, at least.

    ‘Deep Blue Sea’… was that ever going to be a promising movie… really?

    I actually love the ‘Kong’ remake because most of the CG is so good! And How else could a lot of these movie effects get done otherwise? Miniatures? Guys in suits? Strings and wires?

    Do we really want to go back to the ’70’s?

    By all means give Computer Graphics a good kicking, but your arguments would have much more credibility if the movies you chose to examine were actually half decent in the first place.

    1. Ryan Thomas (Author)
      Ryan Thomas (Author) at |

      Answer: yes we should go back to the seventies…and eighties…It’s not impossible to make fantasy come to live without cgi. It’s called costume and make up. Have you seen pan’s labyrinth (or hell boy); Guillermo Del Toro has no trouble at least pairing down some of the CGI when it comes to at least actual characters. His tedious make-up effects are very rooted in traditional horror filmmaking. That is an example of not compromising artistic craft by taking the time to add some physical texture. Additionally, what I liked about the original Matrix WAS all the usage of wires and fight choreography. Rather than the awkward animated sequences with Neo and the Smiths in part 2.

      1. HemalJB
        HemalJB at |

        Hello!! Putting puppetry, costumes and makeup would’ve had the same effect. People would just hate such movies for the conspicuous masks and obvious wire cinematography.
        Anyway, In such movies, one has to have a certain level of suspension of disbelief to enjoy. And before you call me out, let me just say that Lord of the Rings trilogy had amazing CGI and so did the Harry Potter movies.
        Besides, the huge problems with the above movies were poor stories and pointless scenes requiring CGI when they were unnecessary(Transformers had a weak story, but to say the transformers themselves should be men-in-suits is silly. Same with King Kong. And old school special effects in Superman Returns would just make that movie even worse)

  8. Jan
    Jan at |

    I had a hard time reading this list. You need to learn to write more objectively, and not fill your points with personal opinion. Not to mention political statements have no place in a list like this.

    1. Ryan Thomas (Author)
      Ryan Thomas (Author) at |

      This isn’t journalism. So objectivism and fact-worshipping aren’t top priority. If you notice, the movies are discussed without frequent explicit examples to accompany said point. And if you love CGI, well then this list will offend you inherently. As the political joke…it’s only that, not to mention 1000% topical. I take it you’ve never watched an episode of the Daily Show or Saturday Night Live or any stand-up by any liberal comedian ever…or else just one more crack, over two years past his presidency mind you, wouldn’t be so distressing…

      1. Ryan Thomas (Author)
        Ryan Thomas (Author) at |

        *aren’t discussed without frequent explicit examples to accompany said point.

  9. AlohaBase1
    AlohaBase1 at |

    Stopped reading after the Bush joke. Grow up, son.

    1. Ryan Thomas (Author)
      Ryan Thomas (Author) at |

      What is it 2004? No need to get all up in arms, literally, over a topical joke about a politician no longer in office. Most can read around affiliations. If you walked away from everything loosely liberal in voice, you’d be illiterate and in a world of absolute ignorance, devoid of meaningful art. Kind of like the military. Only we know Vietnam vets love their Stones. (“Sweet Neo Con,” from their most recent album, is about Bush by the way).

    2. Bort
      Bort at |

      Started reading after the Bush joke. Grow down, daughter.

  10. Ethan
    Ethan at |

    Whine whine whine whine whine.

    I like the transformers movies. I like the Star Wars prequels (minus all the lovey dovey crap in Episode II). Do I think they deserve a place in the pantheon of great movies with Kane and Schindler and such? No way. But then again, I doubt that the intention of the filmmakers was to even compete with that kind of thing.

    The CGI in Transformers, especially the first one, is mind blowing. I’m a bit of an animation geek, and I came out of the theater after seeing the first Transformers movie with my mouth wide open out of sheer amazement. It had next to no plot, some of the dialog was stiff, and yes they had some gratuitous Megan Fox shots. But this movie is about GIANT TRANSFORMING ROBOTS BEATING THE CRAP OUT OF EACH OTHER. That’s it. That’s why it exists. And that movie delivered it in spades. Same goes for Star Wars: I’m here for the lightsabers and space fights, and the prequels had plenty of both.

    1. Mr Mike
      Mr Mike at |


      Well all movies are about something. Should all movies have terrible story and dialogue, just because they’re about something?

  11. James Faust
    James Faust at |

    well written!

    I’m happy I’m not the only one that thinks transformers was horribly overrated.

  12. jtiz69
    jtiz69 at |

    When i read the words “promising movies” in the title, i misunderstood. I thought you meant movies that are essentially good until the jarring CGI scene comes along and the suspension of disbelief is gone. The second Matrix movie was a good example, and i always skip the brawl scene. But the story is OK and aside from the aforementioned brawl, the CGI seems to add to the experience rather than detract. There even are some movies out there that really have nothing else going for them than the graphics. Two good examples are your number one – Alice in Wonderland and Avatar. These movies had confusing or downright silly and pointless stories, but they were so beautiful to watch. Honestly I could never watch either again; but if i did, I would do so with the volume muted.

  13. lee
    lee at |

    Good list, but I would have made it 11 and the new number one would be that god awful Godzilla movie with Matthew Broderick.
    Not even Ferris Beuler could save that steaming turd.

    The whole charm of Godzilla was that he was a guy in a rubber suit. Even the later Japanese versions where they could have used CGI opted for the guy in a suit and cardboard Tokyos…

  14. jo
    jo at |

    While the premise of this article was promising, your first example was Transformers. I thought this was going to be about promising movies that were RUINED by CGI? Instead we get an elitist snob (you) simply pulling the same old college film critic method of bashing on enjoyable, successful movies in order to sound smarter than everyone else in the room. King Kong was ruined by CGI? I saw that one and knew you were full of it.

    1. Eyeless Dog Pawless Dog Loveless Dog
      Eyeless Dog Pawless Dog Loveless Dog at |

      And you bring the same rethoric “he’s bashing the stupid movies I, the stupid common folk enjoy therefore, he is a film snob Those movies are awful

  15. Greg
    Greg at |

    While I will agree that Transformers was the biggest bore fest ever (I actually fell asleep half way through) It was not because of the CGI. As for the rest of your list? IMHO; epic fail.

  16. Crumpet
    Crumpet at |

    Stephen King’s The Langoliers was ruined by CGI. There were ominous signs of the Langoliers existing throughout the movie without having seen them, and it kept me on the edge of my seat. Seeing the Langoliers was anti-climactic, they looked like meatballs with teeth, then it just became laughable.

  17. psho
    psho at |

    Am I the only one who enjoyed the new Alice in Wonderland?
    I’m old school when it comes to movies, and I hated Burton’s remake of Willy Wonka (Charlie) and the Chocolate Factory, but I feel like the CGI actually did Alice justice. Afterall, it was a wonderland…

    1. John Torver
      John Torver at |

      Alice in Wonderland was very enjoyable and looked fantastic.

      Has no place being on this list, much less at the top. This list has no credibility whatsoever.

  18. derder
    derder at |

    Good list. King Kong, especially.

    There’s also something about the cinematography of CGI action sequences and the way those sequences tend to be paced… It seems there’s hardly any variation at all from one movie to another. If you’ve seen one CGI-heavy sequence, you really have seen almost all of them. There are very few CGI-heavy sequences that really stand out as fresh or unique. It’s as if directors aren’t thinking like directors anymore. They’re thinking like conventional CGI action sequence planners. Either that or they’re handing the duty off to conventional CGI action sequence planners.

    1. StateThe Obvious
      StateThe Obvious at |

      See my previous comment about ILM previs animators. The dozen or so Hollywood ‘A Teams’ of previs artists are all working on these movies, hence the similarities in style and pacing for the majority of action sequences.

      Add to that the need for the current crop of ‘Rockstar’ directors to out ‘Rockstar’ each other, and you end up with cookie-cutter CG action shots/films/trilogies/franchises (I don’t include James Cameron in this as he’s been doing action sequences better than most other directors for years, and long before CG previs became Viagra for adventure films).

  19. JaySin420
    JaySin420 at |

    Superman Returns was a huge letdown, but that plane scene was incredible. Same for the Matrix Reloaded, dumb movie but some of those fight scenes were amazing.

  20. Wendel
    Wendel at |

    The biggest problem with CGI (no pun intended here) is that the computer geeks who work it forget how real animals move.

    Look at the original King Kong. Now look at the latest one. He spins around like a 20 oz howler monkey. Kong weighs in at ten tons. There is no way he could leap around lie that.

    NOW look at Talos from Jason and the Argonauts. You had a sense of size and movement in this stop motion giant. The ground shook and the metal joins creaked.

    Give me Ray Harryhausen over Big Blue any day.

    Size matters.

  21. jo
    jo at |

    Who’s the moron that wrote this article? While some CGI was fairly bad (Matrix reloaded) the others on this list were great. You included King Kong on a list of movies ruined by CGI? Clearly you simply wrote this in order to sound pretentious and take the contrarian point of view in an attempt to sound like the smartest moron in the room. Give it a rest, Junior.

    1. Eyeless Dog Pawless Dog Loveless Dog
      Eyeless Dog Pawless Dog Loveless Dog at |

      again, the common folk defending these awful movies because he likes them and calling those who not pretentious

      well, you ignorant person are the pretentious one trying to present yourself as down-to-earth and that, common.

      1. tom q
        tom q at |

        Jo is right, this list is completely dopey. Most of the movies that are bad are bad for many reasons, cgi mostly being the least among them. At least half of the movies on the list greatly benefit from the cgi.

  22. Kahl
    Kahl at |

    CGI is lazy?

    You’re kidding right; at least contextually you cannot always say that animation is the lazy man’s way out. Perhaps you mean the directors which slump in cgi when they can’t be bothered to set it up ol’ school for obviously more realistic and better believability on the audience.

    I definitely would not say Toy Story, Shrek, UP etc… as lazy (Shaders) for example who spent hours perfecting the details on the characters (Monsters INC) and the background of a believable interior bedroom or an outside universe seen through an insect’s eyes.

    BTW, I would find it a very hard time trying to convince myself and sympathize with a hairy puppet that is supposed to be a giant animalistic Gorilla or believe that District 9 is anymore than the world imprisoning annoying drama actors who dress up as aliens.

    “Animation is the one type of movie that really does play for the entire audience”
    -John Lasseter

  23. Lachlan
    Lachlan at |

    CGI is a powerful tool which can be used well or very badly. If used sparingly or with a bit of thought, we can all believe our eyes, but if used to fill in numbers or substitute for effects which could use “real-life” actors or items, then the results are disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, the superb use of CGI to create TInTin or Beowulf or even Toy Story and Shrek are admirable as animated movies. They don’t pretend to be taking over human actors’ jobs, they are just animations.

    I have at home a dvd of the 1969 British film “The Battle of Britain”. This was long before CGI. The film features many aerial dogfight combat sequences, precisely choreographed and filmed using real Spitfires, Hurricanes, Messerschmitts, Stukas and Heinkels. These real WW2 planes were still in existence for the film (the German planes were borrowed from the Spanish Air Force) and given 1940 make-overs. The results are still an exciting visual spectacle in 2012 !

    having seen CGI air battles, they’re not in the same league as real planes !

  24. JLRaven
    JLRaven at |

    I really liked this article as I am someone who has issues with CGI. It could be good when done without relying heavily on it but the problem stands that most directors see it as a way to make their movie work and it has a tendency to have the opposite effect.

    Personally I am not a fan of CGI, I think it’s too easy to see when something has been done by this method whereas at least with latex, etc there was more imagination brought to the boil.

    I’m not a fan of Transformers but that’s just my personal choice, however if there was one film on the list I agree wholeheartedly with it is #1- Alice in Wonderland. I am a huge Burton fan, mostly of his early stuff, although I have a place in my heart for Sweeney Todd, and this movie was hyped up considerably for me and when I watched it I felt sadly let down. Where as Burton gone? The imagination he used to wield over films?

    It’s not to say the entire thing was horrible there were small glimpses there of something that could’ve been terrific, the Chesire Cat definitely sticks out, but the rest felt an advertisement to CGI and there seemed no heart to the story. I wasn’t concerned initially with the choice of effects yet as the film went on I started to really dislike the overuse of it. It deserved to be on this list.

    I cannot fault CGI entirely because some films beautifully balance out the special FX with the storyline but ultimately it comes down to the director and crew. If they become more interested in the staple of CGI, a lot of the plot is ruined in the process.

    I prefer indie films because less, if any CGI at all, is used and the substance is there but I feel it is overdone and I do agree that it is becoming too easy a tool to use. I’d rather as it stands, watch a horror film from the 80’s with latex, etc than anything CGI. I don’t care for the effects just give me a story that shows promise, originality and hope…

  25. James Franklin
    James Franklin at |

    This is a totally moronic list. Most of the films that are bad on this list are bad due to poor script and direction. For some (Transformers, Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars), the cg visuals are probably the best thing about the film.

  26. Brian
    Brian at |

    I think your spell-checker replaced “boring stories, poorly written scripts and bad directing” with CGI.

    You might want to fix that.

  27. AvidFilmFreak
    AvidFilmFreak at |

    “I Am Legend” should definitely be on that list.

  28. BigEsmallbProductions
    BigEsmallbProductions at |

    CGI is just another tool for the film director to use. To judge the movie because of the tool is inaccurate, while judging the techniques and decisions made by the director would be accurate.

  29. Brooks
    Brooks at |

    What exactly did you expect from transformers, I think CGI was the only way to make it…….good. Not saying that Transformers was SO good, I’m just saying that for the big robots themselves I think CGI was the best choice

  30. Rob
    Rob at |

    I hate the overuse of CGI. No matter how good it gets, we will always know what we are looking at isn’t there. Especially when the actors don’t know which way to look. But I disagree with some of the films listed here because there are appropriate uses of CGI and some films could never function without it.

    Namely, Transformers. Transformers is an enjoyable film, and I’m not sure how much better a film Transformers could really expect. But the CGI was great and there’s no way you could do any of that stuff without a computer, sorry.

    Usually I hate the use of CGI on human beings. Stunts in movies should be performed by stuntmen, not animators. But in the matrix trilogy is an exception to the rule because of the context. The action itself IS IN A COMPUTER! They did it right.

  31. syn
    syn at |

    agree with alot of this. i love the matrix movies but as i watch them over time i find the fight sequences really unnecessary. agreed.

    i abhor transformers. it was a bad story with overdone hard to watch graphics. practically the worst film series of our age. i felt like van helsing worked though, being kind of bad cgi because well, the entire film had that sorta so bad its good thing going for it.

    ultimately cgi really does ruin. it can be used tastefully (jurassic park as an early example) but often its a cop out to more realistic traditional methods of costume design/wires/models/etc. i think as a species we have trouble accepting that not ALL progress means improvement. i figure in another 10-20 years or so the cgi craze will have died down and this era will be embaressingly laughed at for all time. cgi is after all a new thing. its kinda like how in gaming, for the past decade there has been almost nothing but FPS FPS FPS. nowdays, ppl are finally rememering that old 2d side scrollers and older styles of gameplay were actually more ‘fun’ and all that is making a huge comeback. new things get overly embraced and overly used. stupid stupid humans -_-

  32. The Big Tourist
    The Big Tourist at |

    Let me guess … beret, thick-rimmed glasses, Che Guevera T-shirt.


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